Sunday, 25 November 2012

The Review - Ponyo

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this on my blog, but I love Hayao Miyazaki’s films. I was first introduced to “Howl’s Moving Castle” a number of years ago during an Asian Studies course at university, and I've loved his work since. Known as the “Disney of Japan", Miyazaki makes movies that are the absolute pinnacle of imagination. The animation is beautiful and often unbelievably detailed. If you haven’t seen any of his work, then I highly recommend it.

This week gone, we watched Ponyo. I had heard it was good and we had an afternoon to kill, so four of us decided to hire it out and watch it. Ponyo is loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Little Mermaid. It was released in 2008. 

One day, 5-year-old Sosuke finds a beautiful goldfish trapped in a bottle on the beach near his home. He decides to save this goldfish and make her his pet, naming her "Ponyo". However, Ponyo is no ordinary goldfish; she is in fact the daughter of a masterful wizard and a sea goddess. Ponyo becomes infatuated with Sosuke and uses her father's magic to transform herself into a young girl. However, the use of such powerful sorcery causes a dangerous imbalance in the world, and only if Sosuke returns her love can the balance become normal and Ponyo will become a human for good.


Fun Fact #1: The opening 12 seconds, involving vast schools of fish and undersea creatures, required 1613 pages of conceptual sketches to develop.


Fun Fact #2: The seaside village where the story takes place is inspired by the town of Tomonoura in Setonaikai National Park in Japan, where Hayao Miyazaki stayed in 2005.

Fun Fact #3: Hayao Miyazaki stated at the 2009 San Diego Comic Con that he was inspired to create the film after watching Disney's animated adaptation.


There are many references to Richard Wagner's opera series "Der Ring des Nibelungen" scattered throughout the film. Ponyo's real name is Brünnhilde, one of the leading roles in Wagner's "Die Walküre (The Valkyries)". Brünnhilde is also a "supernatural" being who falls in love with a human (Siegfried), much like Ponyo falls in love with Sosuke. When Ponyo is chasing after Sosuke and his mother during the giant storm scene, you can hear a musical tribute to Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries".


Ponyo: Ponyo wants ham!

 Miyazaki drew most of the sea and wave imagery himself, experimenting with making it as expressionistic as possible.

Lisa: So, Ponyo, what's your Dad like?
Ponyo: He hates humans! He keeps me in a bubble, so I swam away from home. 
Lisa: So what's your Mother like, then?
 Ponyo: She's big and beautiful, but she can be very scary!
Sosuke: Just like my Mom. 

The level of detail in the animation resulted from 170,000 separate images - the most that have ever appeared in a Hayao Miyazaki film.

The trailer for your enjoyment:


Until next time :)

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